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Winston Cheng: Cultivating Lifelong Friendships at PHBS

JUL . 20 2020
Peking University, July 20, 2020: “Once you think you know China after living 10 years in China, something comes along and surprises you,” said Winston Cheng, a graduate of the EMBA Program at Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS). Winston was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of USA, so living and running a company in Shenzhen have been a stark contrast for him. After 10 years of living in Shenzhen, Winston decided to embark on a new chapter of his life at PHBS.


Winston Cheng

Looking back at the last two years in the EMBA program at PHBS, Winston exclaimed that it was one of his most rewarding experiences in China. One of his most memorable memory at PHBS traced back to the first few days of class when he attended a military-style training and jointly built a boat with his team members to compete in a river race. Unfortunately, their boat fell apart even before it touched the water. However, their boat surprisingly kept them dry, unlike the other teams’ boats which fell apart in the middle of the sea. Winston found that memories with his friends are the ones that he remembers the most. To this day, his team still meets up outside of classes to share a meal every so often and joke about their memories of their malfunctioning boat.

Classroom learning at PHBS

The EMBA program sees many small groups formed under different programs. These small groups often meet up outside of regular classes for dinner and other socials. It was from these small groups that Winston learned golf and gained the opportunity to travel for weekend trips around China. Winston said there are a variety of student groups. Some of them are official, such as class leadership, running, basketball, while others are unofficial, formed through the bonds established between students during classes.

School trip on the top of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang

Every year, students from PHBS, along with those from elsewhere, compete in a multi-day endurance run through the hot Gobi Desert. Winston describes, “For every two steps forwards, you are forced one step back. It is a harsh competition that tests one’s perseverance and will to complete.” Nonetheless, the competition always ended on a joyous note with all the participants celebrating at the local bar street, eating roast lamb and drinking baijiu, also known as liquor.

Celebration after Gobi endurance run

Aside from the competition in Gobi, another memory that stood out to him was the trip to Dunhuang, a major point along China’s ancient silk road. Winston has always been aware of the diversity and variety of China’s culture and history. However, he finds that living in Shenzhen is not enough for him to experience the vast and profound history of China. His visit to Dunhuang introduced him to the intermingled ancient cultures of China’s history. He recounted that he and his classmates spent a number of days tasting A-class local cuisine and visiting all sorts of historic sites such as the ancient Buddhist Mogao Caves. Yet, the place he remembers most vividly is the Dunhuang Crescent Lake. He described it as a place where “beautifully surreal clear blue waters contrast the white sands of the desert.”

School trip in the Great Wall

Despite a difference in cultures, Winston believed that friendship is at the heart of what PHBS EMBA is to him. He pointed out that his classmates are some of the most successful and talented people he has met in China and his professors and teachers are some of the classiest and knowledgeable people he has ever encountered. Aside from meeting top-notch academics, throughout the 2 years in the EMBA program, there are a plethora of moments with staff and classmates that are priceless. “It’s been humbling and rewarding experience where lifelong friendships are built,” Winston said.

Edited by: June Tan Rui Min
Source: Peking University HSBC Business School